[30 August 2011]
Close your eyes and imagine what an album called Down on the Bikini Line by a dude named Jonny Corndawg sounds like—congratulations, you’re right! That’s not a bad thing, though. On his debut, Corndawg (nee Fritz) wends his way through ten charming, twangy, too-weird-to-have-been-country-classics-in-‘73, honest and bighearted; he’s more Shel Silverstein poet than David Allan Coe dirtbag. Opener “Shaved (Like a Razor)” is about as risqué as it gets (though your interpretation of the maybe-cunnilingus-joke/a cappella hymn “Silver Pantie Liners” may vary from mine); mostly, he sticks to goofy tunes like “Life of a Bear” (“Bears live under bear laws / Bears will band together!”), “When a Ford Man Turns to Chevy” (”...an angel gets its wings”) and the joke-that-gets-real-sad “Undercover Dad”, where Corndawg’s narrator reads his daughter’s diary “to be a better friend” but by the end “[his] cover’s blown / I’ve cried all over the page / So much for undercover dad.” Corndawg reels you in with some good shtick—the blatant country signposts like weepy pedal steel guitar, the big rig and prostitute on the album cover, ringers like Deer Tick’s John McCauley, the freakin’ album title—but you’ll stick around for the genuine craftsmanship.